Happy 2014!

I’ve been a bore lately, so sorry for that (Mainly apologizing to myself here–after all, I’m officially in my late 20s now. Gotta lock down the excitement while I still can).  However, it’s time I wrote something.  I mean, the whole point of this thing was to step up my writing for when I start my outdoor lady blog…which I planned on doing much sooner than now, I assure you.  So in the spirit of things I told myself I’d do but didn’t actually accomplish yet: here’s some New Year’s resolutions!

  1. Greatly improve my Spanish.  In high school I was pretty good at Spanish, and I can still pick up a good bit of what I hear people saying just from having grown up as a minority in a largely Hispanic community.  BUT, I sound like hell trying to speak it these days (let’s not confuse ourselves here, I can still order food in Spanish…priorities people!).  The good news is, Christopher acquired the first set of Rosetta Stone for Spanish some time back, but I’ve kept forgetting he has it.  These CDs combined with plentiful driving for field work should leave me with lots of hours in the car for practicing and improving my skills.  So, viva la ….something.  I’ll fill in that something once I can say it intelligently en Español.
  2. Exercise more. Yes, I know everyone says this one.  The thing is, I was in fucking awesome excellent shape when we got back from the John Muir Trail, aside from the whole achilles tendon creaking like an old rocking chair thing.  And then the tailbone incident occurred thanks to my own idiocy, and pretty much all forms of exercise have hurt.  It’s been 3 months and I still winced the day after I tried to go back to yoga.  But that’s no longer a valid excuse.  Just because I can’t ride my bike or sit in my kayak doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go take my dog for a long walk or attempt climbing again (I fear climbing will leave me in the same boat as yoga has, but worth trying).  The point is–my body feels shitty when I don’t exercise, and I know I’ll feel better if I do something more than the walk between my desk and the kitchen at lunch each day.  I’ll try and start small with some sort of legit activity 2 week days and one weekend day a week.
  3. Write more. Whether just for myself or out here in the blogosphere, I need to get back on the prose pony.  I once enjoyed writing creative and funny things.  Grad school helped me grow in a lot of ways, but it also led me to abandon my more artistic side, allowing it to wither up while I attempted to squash all remnants of an individual voice in my technical papers.  Since resolutions rarely work out without a clear plan, I think I may start trying to write about books I read.  I didn’t realize the extent to which that side of me had atrophied until I was cleaning one day last year and found a book review I wrote in college of The Monkey Wrench Gang (seriously a must read for any environmentalist).  I could tell as I read it that I had truly had fun writing it.  The same cannot be said for pretty much anything I have written for school since.

Honorable mention (as it is not really a resolution so much as it is a general goal beyond just the next year) goes to looking seriously at moving abroad. Probably not in the next year, but I’ll be doing my research in that time and thinking about a plan. I’ll share more on that in my next entry though 😉 See what I did there?  Forcing myself to write more already!

Adventures in Teaching…

This post is dedicated to the misadventures of being a TA.  My most recent stories of the most obnoxious kid I’ve ever taught were getting ridiculous so, after Chris’s prompting, I’m going to include some of his gems here.

I’ll set up the context for ObnoxiousKid first. The guy is loud, he has befriended the other super loud guy in my class who we will call JovialFriend.  Not the jock type of obnoxious, and very much not self-aware. The others in the class roll their eyes when he opens his mouth because 90% of the time whatever comes out is deserving of the group eye roll. He misuses words in the style of Michael Scott from The Office100% without realizing it’s wrong.  You’ll still like him somewhat despite all that, I guess also like Michael Scott, but that doesn’t change the fact that he can make getting work done very difficult.

My tactic for beginning lecture if I say “okay we are going to get started” and students are still chattering away is to just start the lecture and, as the people in the front quiet down, everyone else realizes the background noise is dominated by my voice and gets quiet. Sure I’m only delivering information they care little if anything about, but this has always worked for me until ObnoxiousKid.  I was talking for at least 15 seconds while he was still shooting the breeze talking about something on television to JovialFriend, who was adamantly not responding, before I said “OH MY GOD, COULD YOU PLEASE STOP TALKING, HOLY CRAP!”  The room erupted in laughter as ObnoxiousKid turned the color of the earthy hematite before him.

Nothing holds back ObnoxiousKid for long though, so naturally the lab midterm came and he told me he didn’t like one of my questions, leading to the following exchange:

Me: “What problem did you have with that question?”
ObnoxiousKid: “Oh…I didn’t mean to offend you, I just don’t think that one is a very good question.”
Me: “No one else seems to share that sentiment with you. Is it possible that your judgement of good and bad questions might be impaired by your not paying attention to half the things I said so far in this course?”
ObnoxiousKid: “haha yeah that’s probably why.  I’ll pay better attention after this.”

But alas, ObnoxiousKid has only limited capacity for paying attention, including the world outside academia.  For example, one day when I was trying to figure out who was absent:

JovialFriend: oh Scruffy isn’t here
ObnoxiousKid: who is that?
me: the other guy who you talk to all the time while I’m trying to lecture
ObnoxioiusKid: no clue who that is
JovialFriend: he did like every lab with us
ObnoxiousKid: oh that guy, well I have no idea his name, I don’t need to know his name

3 minutes later, after I have started talking about coastal processes and put up a satellite picture of the Galveston Bay…

JovialFriend: Wait, that looks like Houston
me: That’s because it is Houston–there at the top of the bay.  This is Galveston Island and this is the Bolivar Peninsula
JovialFriend: whoa, I had no idea Galveston was an island
ObnoxiousKid: wow, that’s really bad, how could you not know that?
me: this from the guy who said he didn’t need to know someone’s name he has been talking to every day for the last month?!
JovialFriend: yeah dude, how could you do that to Scruffy?
me: chill out there, JovialDude, I didn’t say it was okay to not know Galveston is an island either

The time came for learning though, and ObnoxiousKid tried to feign interest when I taught them about groundwater since it’s what I know the most about

ObnoxiousKid: So if there is subsistence, does it go back if they stop using water?
me: no, and the word is subsidence
ObnoxiousKid: right okay…so if they quit draining out the water, then will the subsistence come back or just go away?
me: the word is subSIDence…with a D…subsistence is a type of farming

If I were a bit more southern, that would be the point at which I’d give a resounding “bless his heart” before going on.  I think that’s enough though.  And I’m now done TAing…for good! What a way to go.